If you look at the map of the Pacific Ocean right now, you will see something that appears to be a steaming Eye of Mordor staring right back at you. That hell beast is expected to do a ton of damage, and cream the Philippines when it makes landfall on Friday. Here's everything you wanted to know about the storm but were afraid to ask.
What Do We Call It?
So this storm actually has two names, which is why you may have seen people call it Yolanda and Haiyan. Yolanda, is what it's being called in the Philippines — where it's expected to hit. Haiyan is its Chinese name.
How Big and Powerful Is This Thing?
Well, look at it:
Yolanda is actually being called a "super typhoon" because of its size (the storm reportedly has a diameter of 500 miles), scale, and force— a typhoon turns super once its winds reach 150 mph. CNN says it's one of the strongest storms ever-recorded in history. And it has meteorologists freaking out:
Accuweather's Anthony Sagliani puts Yolanda's force into some perspective, and explains that it is packing winds stronger than some of the most powerful tornados on earth.
A bit more context: the Moore tornado this year had peak winds of 210 mph, Hurricane Katrina had wind speeds of 140 mph on landfall, and Hurricane Sandy had sustained wind speeds of 75 mph. And it isn't just the wind — some forecasters are predicting a storm surge that could reach up to 23 feet, USA Today reported. That's terrible for country's many islands and coastal communities.
So ... everyone is worried about the Philippines, right?
Yeah. Unfortunately, typhoons in the Philippines are common. But Yolanda is, by far, the strongest this year. If the Philippines were a human body, Yolanda's projected path takes it right into the country's gut.That isn't good because that region is still picking up the pieces after being rocked by a 7.1 earthquake last month. That quake killed at least 222, injured around 1,000, and displaced over 350,000.
The last figure, the 350,000 displaced, reflects a lot of poor and homeless people, which the country has plenty of. And disasters in the Philippines affects those people the most. Last December, the typhoon known as Bopha hit the Philippines and its southern island of Mindanao and claimed over 1,000 lives and affected over 6 million people.
Is there any good news?
Maybe. Sort of? Think of it as less terrible news. Meteorologists are predicting that the winds will weaken to regular terrible disaster level instead of super disaster level. Depending on which report you read, the winds are expected to be anywhere from 125 mph to 175 mph when Yolanda makes landfall.
Evacuation plans are already underway. And President Benigno Aquino has already made preparations. "Three C-130 air force cargo planes and 32 military helicopters and planes were on standby, along with 20 navy ships," USA Today reported.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.